The White Complex

Everything changes for 1109853, more commonly known as Christine, when her closest friend discovers cracks in the white complex, a massive living space filled with teenagers without memories. When people start to disappear, to what lengths will Christine take to escape the white?

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2. Cracks in the White

We have been walking through the tangled, whitewashed maze of halls for a while now, cutting left and right, trying to avoid passersby. Mark doesn’t seem as worried as before. Now, he seems almost excited; hopeful. It's so unlike him to show his emotions.

We take one final turn down a short hall and come to a door labeled in silver letters with Mark’s ID numbers: 5814787. He turns the shiny doorknob slowly and reveals his small room, similar to every way to all the occupants of the white complex. A simple metal frame and mattress sits in the corner of the room, accompanied by a simple, square, white table with matching chair. We wait in the doorway not moving, but I watch Mark’s eyes directing me to the odd, copper colored vent under his bed. His words begin to replay in my head.

“There’s a vent,” He says bluntly as we stand together in the bathroom.

“A vent?” I reply. “There's tons of vents here. That doesn't make a difference,” He cracks a small smile at my statement.

“Have you ever seen a vent in a bedroom? Or near the ground?” He asks me grinning.

“No,” I reply uneasily, trailing off, still curious.

“That’s what I thought,”

“So where is this so called mystery vent you talk so highly of?” I ask sarcastically and he rolls his deep blue eyes.

“Well, it's not so much of a mystery anymore,” He pauses for a moment and reaches towards the metal faucet to increase the blurring noise. “A few weeks ago, I noticed something in my room. There was a slight rectangular bulge in the wall, hardly noticeable. I further examined it and noticed the plaster covering the bulge was weak, so I came back the next day with a metal fork from the mess hall and started chipping away,” he pauses again, letting me dangle on the cliffhanger.

“Okay,” I say bluntly, acknowledging him, yet slightly irritated by his teasing.

“Anyways,” He continues, smiling slightly, “After a few days, I was able to slowly break away the weak plaster, and after doing such, I discovered the vent.

“A covered up vent?” I say, my voice rising in surprize, perplexed. He nods.

“I was shocked too. They keep such well maintenance of this place, I wouldn’t think they would allow for any cracks like this,” He says, shrugging his shoulders. I take a deep breath, a suddenly flood of hope brimming up in my heart, breaking down the walls I had been building for so long.

“How big is the vent? Can you open it?” I ask joyously in a rush.

“Roughly a two by three foot rectangle by my estimate,” He says and continues, his voice heightening, “I was also able to undo the screws holding the faceplate in place with the fork,”

“But didn’t they see you?” I ask harshly, my head jutting in the direction of the ceiling.

“I hope not. I've been working on displacing the camera, which was a sort of hopeless cause. However, I have been covering the edges with blackberry jam to narrow the scope. From my perspective, the vent should be just out of the camera’s view. Anyways, I pushed my bed in front of it to block it, leaving a small opening between the wall and the frame so I can work on it at night, which I assume would be harder to see anyway” Mark says, and I can only smile at him.

“You are a real genius Mark. A stupid genius. You know that, right?” I say with teasing admiration, but he only rolls his eyes and smiles.

“I wouldn’t get your hopes up just yet Crissy. We don’t even know where the vent shaft goes, nonetheless if they have seen us,” He says forlornly, his smile fading.

“I know, but that doesn’t matter does it? The point is that there might be a way out of this place. We could see in real time all the words in our heads; taxis, fire, grocers,” I say happily.

“You’re funny, you know,” He says, his smile returning at the sight of my joy. “From what I know, taxis aren’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world,”

“I know,” I say, slowly leaning into his shoulder, and eventually, uncertainly, he wraps one arm around my back weakly.

“Now,” Mark says suddenly, releasing me with a jolt that slightly stings. He walks over to the running faucet and cups his hands under the running water, continuing to dump the contents over my hair.

“Hey!” I yelp sillily. “I get to do you then!” I say, repeating his actions, but this time issuing the water over his head. He shakes violently and water droplets splatter me,the dewy drops rolling down my face. I can only smile at this perfect boy.

“Well, now it will look like we had a reason for running the bath water,” he says, savoring the fun. I laugh.

“Oh yes, smart one,” I tease and we walk out of the bathroom in stride.

 

After visiting Mark’s room and seeing the vent, we go our own ways, I heading to the commons and him going... who knows where. He’s rather mysterious, but I like him for it, although his disconnection often proves irritating. I continue, after navigating the vast system of halls to sit down at an octagonal table in the commons filled with girls, some of which I am rather familiar. Some perk up at the sight of me, while others continue their mindless banter. I short redhead who calls herself Pinky addresses me. "Christine? Where have you been? You missed Chloe's fight with Emeil," she says poutily, gesturing to a roughed up girl with bruises on the other side of the table. I sigh and side into the seat next to Pinky.

"Sorry Pink. I was just washing up," I reply.

"I can tell," she says frowning, tousling the mop of brown, wet, stringy hair on my head. "You really need to take better care of your assets!"

"My what now?" I ask in response, eyeing her questioningly.

"You know, you really do have quite lovely hair, if only you would brush it more. If I had hair like yours, I would take a thousand strokes to it everyday!" I don't doubt her.

"You have," I fumble for words, eyeing Pinky's fizzy short red mop, "nice hair," I say, trying to keep her positive.

"Ha!" She shouts. Some of the other girls at the table turn towards her, staring at her outburst. She turns her head away from the onlookers and continues her rant which I slightly tune out to. I'm caught off guard when she suddenly speaks my name. "Christine? Are you even listening to me?"

"Sorry," I reply, "I just have a lot on my mind right now," she smiles knowingly.

"I have no idea what could be on your mind in a dull place like this, but I respect you Christine and thus I will forgive you for neglecting my hair sob story," she says, clasping her hands together in a saintly fashion. I roll my eyes, and she lightly taps me on the head.

"What was the for?" I ask feigning irritation.

"You're my new pet. I'm going to fix you up Christine 1109853 if it's the last thing I do. Now how about we get started on those locks of yours!" She says enthusiastically, lightly lifting a limp section of hair with an outstretched finger. I sigh.

How people still care for beauty in a place like this, I am completely unknowing, but then again, you have to have something to do, or the boredom begins to drill holes into your cranium. For Pinkie, it's self maintenance, for others like Chloe, it's fights. For me... I'm not certain. I suppose I wander a lot through the complex labyrinth of passages and occasionally talk to passers by. It's a rather dull life and I often find myself slipping into strange places within my mind.

The other day, as Pinkie knotted my hair with curling rags, I sat in silence, staring at the mirror in front of me, as my stylist gobbled on in in comprehensive jibberish. Something about a boy... Caleb? A red ribbon? I quickly lose track but Pinkie continues, not even slightly minding my silence. She's just one of those people who can't keep their mouth shut. I close my eyes for a second to clear my brain, but open them quickly again in submission to physical existence. I stare at the starch white blouse I wear, the small buttons trailing down the front like sand tumbled pebbles lining a misted beach.

The white is everywhere. There is no escape from it, except in the living. I'm shocked they haven't already bleached our hair and starched our skin. All in perfect synced uniform.

I don't understand this place. I don't understand our purpose here. And most of all, I don't understand the past. There was nothing before the white complex, just... Things. I know about things, like rivers, and skyscrapers, and dandelions, but I have no memories of them. They are simply etched into my mind like definitions in a dictionary, accompanied by a single, constant, unchanging image. I imagine these things are wonderful, but in my mind they see so still, so much the same, all clouded over by a white haze.

How long have I been like this? I know there must have been something before this, I can feel it in my soul, but then again, it is all a blank. One thing I do know is that normal life does not look like this. In my head I see families, picnics, school, and Christmas. We have none of those things here, those things for which I so greatly long and covet.

I seems like years, but there is no way to keep track. I exist outside of the human conception of time. I am timeless.

I sharp yanking wakes me from my bodiless trance. "Sorry!" Pinkie cries out, gently releasing the pressure.

"It's fine Pink," I say sighing. She continues to chatter and I don't pay attention until one comment of hers catches my attention.

"I'm afraid," She says suddenly, out of which context I am unknowing.

"What?" I ask, confused.

"I said I'm scared. I don't want to end up like Daisy did," I think back to the lanky, sweet girl who had disappeared into the door days ago and returned in a zombie like state. It sent shivers down my spine. Seeing her like that, I could easily tell all joy had left her, leaving a barely functional shell with minimal mental and physical capacities. It is a scary thought.

"Trust me, I don't want to end up like that either," I reply uneasily. More and more people had disappeared and returned in the degraded state. How many normal people were left? About half? Thirty or so? I hadn't really thought about it specifically until now. Things were happening fast. Too fast. What ever happened to living outside of time? I sigh. I guess it's true then that time waits for no one. I stand up and leave abruptly and I hear pouty noises from behind me.

"What do you think you are doing miss?" Pinky shouts sternly. The look on her face is slightly frightening. She takes me by the shoulders and sits me down again. "I must finish before you go anywhere," she pouts and I give in, still a thought continues to coninsidally run through my head. I want out. I need to talk to Mark. I want out!

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